BBC iPlayer Desktop is a desktop download manager and player. It is based on the Adobe Air framework, which ensures its compatibility with all major operative systems. Unlike other desktop applications for web streaming services, BBC iPlayer Desktop functions more as a download manager than as a player. When you install the application, you can't really browse content of it. You have to go to BBC's iPlayer site to add a show to the download queue. Then, the Adobe Air app will start downloading the show and let you watch it on it. All your downloads appear on the download section of the app and they have a little synopsis of the show, with some more information available upon request. You can't really even sample the video until it has finished downloading. Downloads can be paused and resumed. Video playback is really nothing special, though. The quality is average and there aren't really many options that you can tweak to improve the feed. I don't really understand why they approached this application like this. The website already allows you to download Windows Media and Portable versions of the files offered thereat. Having an extra application doing all the work for an average quality playback seems like overkill to me. And Adobe AIR hasn't really shown a lot of promise for video playback. To sum to the aforementioned list of drawbacks, I have to note that BBC does not offer any HD content and it restricts viewers to people living in the UK (or being smart enough to seem like they do live there).
- It's lightweight
- It serves no clear purpose
- No HD content
- Just average playback quality
- No advanced controls